October 24, 2020

What To Know About A Career In Cyber Security?

Are you considering a career in cyber security? This is an industry on the rise right now with cybercrime considered an enormous threat to businesses and individuals. With dangerous threats constantly in development, cyber security is developing at a similar rate. Ensuring that the war on cybercrime continues and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. A career in cyber security has many benefits and there is a reason that many people are eyeing a career here, but it can also have its own unique challenges to be aware of. Here is everything that you need to know about a career in this industry.

It Is A Growing Industry

Perhaps the most important thing to be aware of is the fact that this industry is growing rapidly and positions are heavily in-demand – which is excellent news for anyone pursuing a career here. This is because cybercrime is considered to be the biggest threat to modern-day businesses and it is something that every single person and company needs to consider. The NY Times reported that an incredible 3.5 million cyber security jobs will be available but unfilled by 2021 so those looking for work will certainly be on the right path here.

You Will Get Strong Job Security

As a role with so many vacancies (and that is in demand all over the world), it is fair to say that you can find strong job security in it. Once you have a cyber security degree, you can find work just about anywhere, as well as having the option of working in many different settings. This means that you could work at a cyber security firm or provide cyber security for businesses in healthcare, education, finance, or any other industry that interests you. Many people also like the freedom and flexibility that a freelance cyber security specialist role can provide, but this also brings its own unique challenges.

There Are Many Different Career Paths To Choose From

Another major benefit of a career in cyber security is that there are many different career paths and options to choose from, so you should be able to find an area that interests you. Just a few cyber security roles include:

  • Security administrator
  • Security engineer
  • Security analyst
  • Security software developer
  • Cryptographer
  • Ethical hacker
  • Digital forensic analyst

You Can Earn An Excellent Salary

You can earn good money with a career in cyber security, which is another reason that it is an industry that many people are looking into. It is reported by PayScale that the average salary for a cyber security analyst is $76,218, but this can increase and you can earn more in specialized roles. It will also depend on where you are working. Big cities will be the place to go if you want to command higher salaries and climb the corporate ladder (although the cost of living is likely to be higher in these places).

It Is Important Work

One overlooked aspect when discussing cyber security as a profession is just how important the work is. Cybercrime is an enormous threat in a time where so much of modern life is online and vulnerable to attack. So, by working in this industry you are fighting a war on cybercrime and allowing people and businesses to go about their daily lives which makes it an incredibly rewarding area to work in. Of course, the reverse of this is that the stakes are incredibly high which can make it a stressful job. Any mistakes or failures could have significant consequences to a wide range of people – which can stick in your mind.

You Will Need A Cyber Security Degree

While there are many open cyber security positions, you will need a cyber security degree to find work in this industry – so this is something that you should look to get sooner rather than later. There are many great degrees to consider, but if you really want to excel then a master’s cyber security degree is the best option as it will help you to develop the technical and soft skills which are critical to succeed in the industry. Additionally, you can take a 100% online cyber security degree which can provide flexibility and allows you to complete the course at your own pace. The master’s cyber security degree will help to prepare you for many certifications, plus this qualification will help you to stand out to employers and help you to move into higher leadership-level positions.

You Need Excellent Communication Skills

A cyber security degree is vital for learning the technical skills of the job, but you will also need excellent communication skills in order to succeed in this industry. This is often overlooked. In addition to being able to work as part of a team, you will also need to be able to clearly explain to your clients what you are doing to protect them as well as listen to what their questions and concerns are. You need to be able to build trust in this industry and being a good communicator and knowing how to present yourself is key. This is an area that some people struggle with, but there are many ways that you can improve your communication skills such as:

  • Courses
  • Practice
  • Improving your self-confidence
  • Asking for feedback
  • Research online

The Work Is Demanding

The work is incredibly demanding in cyber security and it’s not your average 9-5 role. This means that you need to have a strong work ethic and be willing to work late or at weekends (you will also often be on-call so it can interfere with your personal life). Due to the important nature of the work, you need to be able to put in 100% every single day and be able to operate in a demanding, fast-paced, and stressful work environment. This can take some getting used to at first.

Experience Is Key

A cyber security degree is important, but you might struggle to get your foot in the door without any kind of work experience which can be frustrating and make it hard to get your career started. Any kind of IT work, internships and volunteering can all be smart ways to get experience and show that you are capable of working in this kind of environment – this could also help you to form a few important industry connections as well.

You Need To Network

Leading on from this point, much like in any industry you will need to network if you want to get ahead and find success. While there are many positions to fill now, it will soon be a competitive industry as people rush to plug the talent gap, and having key connections will be important for finding work as well as building your professional reputation. Networking online is a good way to do this (through social media and online communities like Reddit), but you also need to make the effort to network in person by attending cyber security and IT events. You can learn how to network in person with helpful online guides if you need help and you should always have business cards printed up.

It Is Helpful To Have An Online Presence

Many cyber security professionals find it helpful to have an online presence when looking for work. This should be a professionally-designed website which contains information about your background, experience, cyber security degree, and contact information. It should also contain a portfolio with examples of any cyber security work that you have already done along with reviews/testimonials from people that you have worked with and for. Essentially, this will act as an online resume and demonstrate to employers what you are capable of.

The Industry Is Fast-Changing

A cyber security degree will teach you what you need to know to succeed in this industry, but it is also important to be aware that it is fast-changing as new threats are constantly being developed. This means that you need to be committed to continuous learning and stay aware of what the latest trends, issues, challenges, and developments are. Cyber security needs to become an important part of your life and not something that is just your career. Many cyber security professionals find it helpful to participate in online communities, listen to podcasts, attend industry events, and follow industry figures on social media to stay in the loop.

You Need To Find Ways To Disconnect

While it certainly is important to make cyber security an important part of your life, it is also essential that you are able to disconnect and switch off from work. As it can be such a demanding career with a lot of time sitting in front of the computer, you need to be able to relax when you are not working and look after your physical and mental health. How you go about doing this will depend on your personality and interests, but a few great ways to de-stress and unwind include:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Walking
  • Reading
  • Spending time with loved ones
  • Creative hobbies

You Should Have Critical Thinking Skills

As a cyber security professional, you are essentially a problem solver which means that you should have critical thinking skills and be able to think outside of the box. These are skills that you can develop and it is worth the effort because it will allow you to find success in your work, stand out from the crowd, and could improve your life in a number of surprising ways.

Mistakes Will Happen

As this is such a fast-paced, stressful, and demanding career, coupled with the fast-changing nature of cybercrime, everyone makes mistakes from time to time and this is simply part of the job. Of course, you need to avoid this at all costs as the stakes are high but it is important to not let any mistakes that you make knock your confidence. Confidence is vital in the cyber security industry so if you ever make a mistake you should pick yourself up, see what you can learn from the experience, and move on. Dwelling on past mistakes can lead to doubt and slow you down so you must avoid this at all costs.

You Need To Demonstrate Leadership Skills To Progress

If you want to climb the ladder to reach the top positions, you will need more than a cyber security degree and experience to back you up. You will also need to demonstrate leadership skills so that you can show how you would excel in a higher role and that you know how to get the most out of your team. To help you improve you can research leadership skills and then try to demonstrate your abilities in the workplace – such as taking initiative, taking on additional responsibilities, and making yourself available to colleagues to help them when they are struggling.

You Need To See From A Business Standpoint

When you are providing cyber security for a business, you need to understand where they are coming from and be able to see the big picture. From their standpoint, they simply want to have protection in place which does not interfere with their daily operation and they are not likely to be as concerned with the technical details as you are. This means that you really need to listen to what their needs are and provide the best solution to allow their employees to work safely and with confidence each day.

These are a few of the main things that you need to know if you want to pursue a career in cyber security. A cyber security career can be rewarding, enjoyable, and lucrative, but it also has its own unique challenges to be aware of and you will need to know how to stand out to employers and excel in your role. This is an industry that is growing rapidly with many positions to fill, but this also means that there will be a surge to fill this gap in the years to come, so you need to be prepared and find ways to stand out from the crowd.

About the author 

Peter Hatch

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